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“ This work, by merit first of fame secure,
* The author speaks the language of astrology, in which geniture signifies nativity.
EPISTLE THE THIRD.
TO MY HONOURED FRIEND
LEARNED AND USEFUL WORKS,
BUT MORE PARTICULARLY HIS TREATISE OF STONE
HENGE, BY HIM RESTORED TO THE TRUE
WALTER CHARLETON, M. D,, was born in 1619, and educated at Oxford to the profession of physic, in which he became very eminent. During the residence of King Charles I. at Oxford, in the civil wars, Charleton became one of the physicians in ordinary to his majesty. He afterwards settled in London; and, having a strong bent towards philosophical and historical investigation, became intimate with the most learned and liberal of his profession, particularly with Ent and Harvey. He wrote several treatises in the dark period preceding the Restoration, when, the government being in the hands of swordsmen equally ignorant and fanatical, a less ardent mind would have been discouraged from investigations, attended neither by fame nor profit. These essays were upon physical, philosophical, and moral subjects. After the Restoration, Charleton published the work upon which he is here congratulated by our author. Its full title is, “Chorea GIGANTUM,or the most famous antiquity of Great Britain, STONEHENGE, standing on Salisbury Plain, restored to the Danes. By Walter Charleton, M. D., and Physician in Ordinary to his Majesty. London, 1663, 4to." The opinion which Dr Charleton had formed concerning the origin of this stupendous monument is strength. ened by the information which he received from the famous northern antiquary, Olaus Wormius. But it is nevertheless hypothetical, and inconsistent with evidence ; for Stonehenge is expressly mentioned by Nennius, who wrote iwo hundred years before the arrival of the Danes in Britain. If it be true, which is alleged by some writers, that it was anciently called Stan-Hengist, or, indeed, whether that be true or no, the monument seems like ly to have been a Saxon erection, during their days of paganisın ; for it is neither mentioned by Cæsar nor Tacitus, who were both likely to have noticed a structure of so remarkable an appearance. Leaving the book to return to the author, I am sorry to add, that this learned man, after being president of the College of Physicians, and thus having attained the highest honours of his profession, in 1691 fell into embarrassed circumstances, which forced him shortly after to take refuge in the island of Jersey. It is uncertain if Dr Charleton ever returned from this sort of exile; but his death took place in 1707, at the advanced age of eighty-eight years.
Dr Charleton's hypothesis concerning Stonehenge was but indifferently received. It was considered as a personal attack on Inigo Jones, who had formed a much more fantastic opinion upon the subject, conceiving the stones to form a temple, dedicated, by the Romans, to the god Cælus, or Cælum. To the disgrace of that great architect's accuracy, it seems probable that he never had seen the monument which he attempts to describe ; for he has converted an irregular polygon into a regular hexagon, in order to suit his own system. Dryden sided with Charleton in his theory; and, in the following elegant epistle, compliments him as having discovered the long-forgotten cause of this strange monument. The verses are not only valuable for the poetry and numbers, but . for the accurate and interesting account which they present of the learning and philosophers of the age. It was probably written soon before the publication of Charleton's book in 1663. Sir Robert Howard also favoured Dr Charleton with a copy of recommendatory verses. Both poems are prefixed to the second edition of the “ Chorea Gigantum,” which is the only one I have seen. That of Dryden seems to have been afterwards revised and corrected.
EPISTLE THE THIRD.
The longest tyranny that ever swayed,
• The copy prefixed to the “ Chorea Gigantum" reads, Until 'twas.
Among the assertors of free reason's claim, Our nation's not* the least in worth or fame. The world to Bacon does not only owe Its present knowledge, but its future too. Gilbert I shall live, till loadstones cease to draw, Or British fleets the boundless ocean awe. And noble Boyle, g not less in nature seen, Than his great brother, read in states and men. The circling streams,once thought but pools, of blood, (Whether life's fuel, or the body's food,) From dark oblivion Harvey's || name shall save; While Ent keeps all the honour that he gave.
* First edition, The English are not.
William Gilbert, M. D. chief physician to Queen Elizabeth and King James I. He published a treatise, “De Magnete, magnetecisque corporibus, et de magno magnete Tellure Physiologia Nova. London, 1600, folio." This treatise on the magnet is termed by the great Bacon“ a painful and experimental work.” Gilbert also invented two instruments for the use of seamen in calculating the latitude, without the aid of the heavenly bodies. He died A. D. 1603.
§ The Hon. Robert Boyle, who so laudably distinguished his name by his experimental researches, was a son of the great Earl of Corke. He was about this time actively engaged in the formation of the Royal Society, of which he may be considered as one of the principal founders. This necessarily placed his merits under Dryden's eye, who was himself an original member of that learned body. His great brother was Roger Lord Broghill, created
upon the Restoration Earl of Orrery, to whom Dryden dedicated the “ Rival Ladies.” See Vol. II. p. 113.
|| William Harvey, the famous discoverer of the circulation of the blood. His Exercitatio Anatomica de motu cordis et sanguinis, was printed at Frankfort, 1627. He adhered to his master Charles I. during the civil wars; and when his affairs became desperate, retired to privacy in London. His last treatise, entitled, Exercitatio de generatione Animalium, was published in 1651, at the request of Dr George Ent, a learned physician, mentioned by Dryden in the next line. This gentleman, in a dedication to the President and College of Physicians, gives a detailed account of the difficulty which he bad in prevailing on the aged and retired philosopher to